Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Time to Mourn

Yesterday was my final day of work at my school (see my blog post here on my leaving). Students finished exams on Wednesday, and the last two days were devoted to post-planning. My classroom is all packed up and is now in array of boxes in my living room. I have turned in my laptop and keys. I have said my goodbyes. In the aftermath of it all, I now feel sad.

The funny thing is that earlier in the morning yesterday, a fellow teacher who was also not returning, while walking to her car to leave, said to me,"I feel sad now. Do you?" Maybe because I had not yet finished everything which I needed to do, I remarked back to her, "Not really." It did not hit me, however, until I had to turn in my keys and to give them to the teacher who was taking my classroom. The assistant principal to whom i gave my keys said, "I'm really going to miss you here." Suddenly, it felt final. When I was backing out of my parking spot, I realized that this would be the last time I would ever be at this school as a teacher there. That is when the sadness hit me.

On the one hand, I am rather glad to be finished with it all, because since I had made it public to my faculty in March that I was transferring schools, it has been a never-ending, two-month long goodbye for me. The last couple weeks, I had grown so weary of saying my farewells that by the last few days, I just wanted to hide from folks.

But at the same time, I had been a teacher at this school for 17 years (most of my students this year had not even born when I began teaching there). How can I not be sad over my departure? Over those 17 years, I laid down so many roots and established so many great relationships with both my fellow faculty members and students. If anything, I was a great team player. As so many teachers told me upon learning that I was leaving, "This school will not be the same without you. You've always just been here. You are a part of the school culture." Those are certainly nice words to hear.

Most importantly, I had garnered the respect of my fellow teachers and administrators. Especially in my department where we all did not see eye to eye pedagogically, even though many disagreed with me, I still felt like I had earned their respect. Quite honestly, I would much rather be respected than to be viewed as right.  

For now, I feel like I am in a limbo state, because I do not feel like I have a sense of belonging jobwise anywhere at the moment. I have said my goodbyes and have ended my stay at my previous school, but I have not officially started yet at my new school. It is a weird feeling.

However, as one of my mentors wisely once told me years ago when I told him that I was feeling homesick after having visited my family in California (and I was mad at myself for feeling this way), "It sounds like you're grieving. It is okay to mourn the situation." What he said suddenly knocked sense into me; immediately after he said that, I felt so much better, because 
  1. what I was feeling suddenly had a name. 
  2. it was perfectly okay to feel what I was feeling 
  3. more importantly, grieving allows us as humans to deal with and to process our grief, and to come out the other end with a sense of joy (think of Sadness' role in Inside Out).
So for now, I will grieve and mourn over my leaving. What I am feeling is okay, and I know that I will get through it. Most importantly, I feel so blessed to have 17 years worth of wonderful experiences to be grieving over! 

1 comment:

  1. Keith,

    I hear you. My final day is on Friday and I am in that weeks/months long process of saying goodbyes. I have only been at m school for 5 years, so I can hardly imagine how difficult it must be after 17 years. Luckily for you there is a large, warm, and welcoming Latin family waiting for you at your new school!